Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: how they offer deals on brand new merch and how to get the most for your money

It's the time of year!  Nordstrom Anniversary Sale;  you either love it or hate it (and if so probably want to lock all fashion bloggers up somewhere remote without internet access...).

Rather than just sharing my picks, which I will inevitably do, I'm looking to offer something a little different in this post.  I'm going to discuss what the sale entails, how Nordstrom is able to offer such incredible deals, and how to get the most out of your Nordstrom Anniversary shopping...  

What's the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale?

Each summer, Nordstrom offers brand new Fall merchandise at discounted prices.  The sale is available a week early for Nordstrom card holders, and then typically runs about 2 additional weeks after it has opened to the public.  The selection of products is huge, and the discounts are as deep as 40%.  When the sale ends, prices return to full-price or MSRP.

How Does Nordstrom Offer Great Discounts on New Products During the Anniversary Sale?

Nordstrom is a huge retailer with a lot of buying power, but that's not the only reason they can offer deep discounts on new merchandise.  There are a few primary ways in which Nordstrom is able to push new products at such low prices:
  1. "Nordstrom Exclusive" products.  Over the years, Nordstrom has began stocking more and more "exclusive" collaborations with brands and private labels (Trouvé, Zella, Leith, BP, Halogen, Caslon, and Hinge are a few of their most popular private labels).  Private labels and exclusive products equal higher profit margins.  While this exclusivity sounds appealing, I'm not always a fan.  What it can often translate into is a higher ticket price for less impressive quality.  Think the outlet phenomenon; when outlets started stocking their own product rather than carrying left overs from other stores, they priced an inferior-quality product at an appropriate price, and then marked a higher "retail" price to convey value, often false, to customers.  I'm not saying this is always the case, I have plenty of private label Nordstrom items I love, but it's just something to keep in mind when shopping Nordstrom Anniversary.
  2. Buying riskier products.  Ever noticed that Nordstrom Anniversary items are particularly trendy?  There are a lot of seasonal colors, funky finishes, and very trend-centric items.  For example, one year they had a small handful of dark wash men's jeans and a huge array of coated jeans, wild colors, and kind of strange cuts (think drop-crotch maroon Diesel jeans...).  Typically, the trendier the merch, the better deal a vendor is willing to strike.  Good deals from vendors mean an opportunity to charge less and still make an impressive margin.
  3. Nordstrom is HUGE and has a lot of buying power.  Okay duh.  But this wouldn't be a complete list if I didn't mention the obvious.  Nordstrom has a lot of pull and maintains typically strong relationships with vendors.  Not only that, but Anniversary is a great time for customers to get introduced to new brands, so many vendors are willing to sacrifice their own margins to participate.  
  4. Volume.  Nordstrom sales in July rival those of December.  So even if margins are a little lower than usual, the sheer amount of stuff sold makes up for it.  

How to Get the Best Values During Nordstrom Anniversary...

There are a few general types of items included in the sale. I lump them into four groups: wardrobe staples, trendy items, and hot-ticket buys, and fillers.
  1. Wardrobe staples are items you could buy all year-round- think a dark wash pair of skinny jeans, pointed black flats, classic leather jackets, nude pumps, etc.  These items are a great buy during the sale.  Sometimes there are even items that were stocked at full price prior to the sale, for example AG's brushed twill 5-pocket pants (best men's pant ever, seriously though), and this is an indicator that you're getting a fantastic value.
  2. Trendy items are those funky finished, seasonal, "risky" items discussed above.  Think faux fur shawls, coated denims, printed coats, and so forth.  I normally pass on these items, especially if they are a private label brand, because they inevitably get marked down substantially deeper a month or two after the Anniversary sale ends.  Is it a little riskier to wait? Yes, however it's not like you'll get a lot of wear out of a printed coat in August anyways.  My rule of key is to buy it if you can't live without it, but if you just like it and are drawn in by the notion of a good deal, it's wisest to pass it up.  True story- there was a Halogen striped midi skirt in last year's sale I really liked.  It was originally about $80, marked down to around $55 for Anniversary.  Within 3 months it was about 60% off, and eventually ended up at the Rack for $11.  Extreme case? Yes, but it definitely illustrates that the markdown process goes much quicker for a lot of the trendy Anniversary items.
  3. Hot-ticket buys are those items that sell out, and sell out fast.  Frye boots, anything Tory Burch, North Face (back in the day) and so forth.  These items are my favorite Anniversary buys, and always worth it.
  4. Fillers are... everything else.  Not quite trendy, not something stocked all year round, and not something that's going to fly off the shelf.  They're often mid-price point items that would be a great addition to any Fall wardrobe, such as Vince Camuto booties, printed sweaters, or business-appropriate pencil skirts in Fall tones.  They often get marked down shortly after the sale ends, like the trendier items.  I like to follow the same decision-format too- if I love it, buy it.  If the sale price is a big part of the appeal- pass.
*These guidelines apply to apparel, shoes, and accessories.  The cosmetics deals are always awesome, independent of whatever "group" they may fit in.  

Now you may be wondering why I have so many opinions about Nordstrom Anniversary.  Well, I've worked four Anniversary Sales, and dozens of other Nordstrom sales.  So, I've had the pleasure of being able watch what's left over, breaking out the red pen to do all those markdowns a few months later, and noting how fast the inventory gets shipped off to the Rack.  

One last note-- none of this is meant to discourage you from shopping Nordstrom Anniversary, or hate on Nordstrom at all.  I LOVE Nordstrom (as evidenced by the amount I shop there).  I just thought that during this time when everyone is hyping the event to the Nth degree (so punny) that a little more insight may be helpful in making wise shopping decisions :)  

TL;DR Nordstrom Anniversary is an outstanding time to shop for brand new Fall items at a discount.  You'll get the biggest bang for your buck by investing in wardrobe staples and hot-ticket items that aren't "exclusive" to Nordstrom.  

And of course today is linkup day!

I'd love for you to link up your favorite outfit post from this week below!

Here's how it works:
1. Click the blue "Add your link" button below.
2. Paste the URL of the specific post you'd like to share, fill in the rest of the form, pick the image you'd like as your thumbnail, crop it, and click "Done".
3. Follow Sincerely Jenna Marie on Instagram or  Blog Lovin' & make sure to add the button below, or a link back to Sincerely Jenna Marie to your post.
Copy & paste the code below (in html mode) to place the button in your post or sidebar:

linked up with Summer Style Linkup with Mix and Match Fashion // Style Spotlight with Living in Color Style and Stylin' in St. Louis // throwback thursday with happiness at midlife // a labour of life  // top of the world style with high latitude style


  1. I always look forward to anniversary sale even if I don't buy too many items. I always buy a new pair of Nikes and maybe a new purse.


    Would love for you to stop by & join TBT Fashion link up.

  2. it is always the perfect time to get something quality in good price! great advice!
    thank you for hosting the link up!

  3. I always struggle to find anything in sales... I try to look for basics, but the problem is often that my size is sold out. There are plenty of smaller, and bigger, sizes, but I suppose I'm 'the average woman'...

  4. Thanks for the tips! I am hoping to pick up some items for Christmas! I am hoping to score some Kate Spade for my daughter! Susan

  5. I can't wait to shop the sale- can't wait to use your tips! Some of them I knew, but the most I didn't. Thanks!
    Southern Elle Style

  6. I haven't done much Nordstrom anniversary shopping--I did buy a coat last year, but otherwise it seems to fall at times when I'm trying not to shop (#budgetproblems). But I do appreciate these tips, because I'm sure one of these days I'll want to shop but feel totally overwhelmed by it, so this helps!

  7. I love the annual sale! Great tips! :)

  8. Great info Jenna! Can't wait to shop the sale.
    Carrie and Stacy
    CS Gems

  9. Really such a great insight on the sale! I know it definitely gets so much attention, but this is a very honest way of going about the sale.

    xo Adri

  10. I am SO looking foward to their sale. I love shopping Nordstrom & the Rack!


  11. This is a great post, thanks for the tips and insight!

  12. These are great tips; thanks so much for sharing! I participated in this sale last year and a couple of the items I bought had a deeper discount at the end of August, and I was so mad, lol. I vowed then to never shop this sale again. I think both of the items were brands exclusive to Nordstrom so now I understand. :) I still probably won't shop, though...

    xo Kimi

  13. Great tips! I'm on the same thought process as you. I love this sale! I always try to focus on getting staple items. It was fun today! Found some great pieces for the kids as well today. Need to do some looking online as the kids came shopping with me today! hehe

  14. Thanks for filling us in on these tips on shopping the big sales, Jenna! Those are some good tidbits to think about before purchasing! Thanks for the link up! --- Amy @ http://www.thegiftedgabber.com

  15. This is the first Nordstrom sale post that has actually been helpful, thank you so much!

    xoxo, SS

    The Southern Stylista

  16. Stopping by from Friday Favorites link-up & I stumbled upon this post. Thank you for all the insight you shared!!! I have been debating on a few pieces, and I found this at the right time :) Have a great weekend

    Caitlin | It's the Grad Life


Thanks so much for stopping by! Your sweet comments make my day, and I read each and every one of them!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...